Kill tree roots to prevent sprouts from developing.

How to Drill Tree Roots & Apply Chemicals

by Keith Dooley

Even if you cut down a tree to kill it, you haven't finished the task. Trees do not always die when cut; their elaborate root system continues to feed the plant, encouraging new sprouts to grow from the stump and roots. In order to eliminate this, you must kill the root system and stop new growth. Several chemical applications over a period of time slowly will force the entire system to die. Use caution to prevent killing other plants in the area.

Drill holes into the stump and exposed surface roots with a 1/2-inch drill bit. Remove debris from the surface of the stump and roots to prevent damaging your drill. Avoid the roots of the tree that cross over or get within a couple feet of other plant roots. The chemicals could transfer through the soil to other root systems if you get too close. Staying closer to the tree trunk usually solves this problem, a small risk of transfer remains.

Brush a concentrated glyphosate-based herbicide over the surface of the stump to coat it, and pour a small amount from the container into the drill holes. Do not dilute the mixture with water.

Pour small amounts of the concentrated glyphosate into the drill holes along the roots to fill them.

Trim away sprouts with pruning shears, but leave one or two uncut to monitor the root system. If the chemicals are working, the sprouts will die.

Watch for any new growth. Apply more chemicals if the sprouts do not die or if you see new sprouts popping up. Repeat applications every few months until you no longer see new growth.

Items you will need

  • Drill
  • 1/2-inch drill bit
  • Glyphosate-based herbicide
  • Paint brush
  • Pruning shears


  • Other chemicals that work for killing sprouts and stumps are dicamba or ammonium sulfanate.
  • Always wear protective eyewear when using a drill to protect your eyes from flying wood debris.


  • Store herbicide products out of the reach of children.
  • Keep children and pets out of the herbicide treated area until the product completely dries.
  • Wear gloves when using herbicides and wash your hands thoroughly after using.
  • Pregnant and nursing women should always read the product label to check if the product is safe for use.
  • Use caution when applying herbicides to trees planted close to another. Both trees might have an overlapping root system and the product may damage or kill both.
  • Store all power tools out of the reach of children.

About the Author

Keith Dooley has done work in the field of landscaping and design for more than 10 years. He has implemented his own designs, as well as pulled from techniques learned through studies, creating many landscapes for others to enjoy.He has also maintained lawns, athletic fields, town parks, large gardens and game fields.

Photo Credits

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